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Caves closed to public in Mark Twain National Forest

Published: Jun. 8, 2011 at 5:11 PM CDT
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Mark Twain National Forest will continue to keep its caves closed to the public through April 2016 due to the threat of fungus that affects bats.

The fungus responsible for White Nose Syndrome has been detected in Missouri.  Although the syndrome has not been confirmed in the state.

Scientists believe the White Nose Syndrome is occurring human to bat, bat to bat, and cave to bat.

Mark Twain National Forest first closed caves to the public April 2009 and continued the closure in 2010.

Missouri is home to 14 kinds of bats and the Mark Twain National Forest is home to more than 600 caves. Some are on the endangered species list.

Closing the cave allows bats to hibernate undisturbed and gives scientists more time to study the causes of White Nose Syndrome, according to the USDA Forest Service.

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